They wanted to beat her. Former Kenyon assistant coach Sara Schoenhoft became head coach at Oberlin in the fall and on Saturday, Kenyon softball had the chance to defeat her new team.
The Ladies took on the Oberlin College Yeowomen to open their North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) season. Overcoming bad weather and the pressure to beat their former coach, the Ladies (13-8-1; NCAC 2-0-0) put on an offensive show to beat the Yeowomen (1-20; NCAC 0-2) in two games, 13-5 and 18-15.
“It was definitely exciting to get the sweep, because our conference is never set in stone,” pitcher Austen Whibley ’19 said. In the first game against Oberlin, Whibley struck out seven batters.
In the first game, Kenyon began their offensive attack in the bottom of the third with a run-scoring double from Molly O’Connor ’16. Later in the inning, runs batted in (RBI) from Nicole Horita ’18, Danielle Elizarraraz ’16 and Amanda Coyle ’18 added to the lead. Later Madi Maldonado ’18 singled and Amanda Ogata ’19 tripled, each knocking in two runs. Another strong pitching performance from Whibley kept Oberlin at bay while the Ladies added four more runs to finish the job. Whibley’s effort from the mound earned her her ninth win on the season.
Kenyon began the second game staying hot at the plate. The team went up 4-0 in the first, with help from a two-run home run by Whibley. In the second, Ogata added to the lead with a triple that knocked in Maldonado and Masen Colucci ’19. The Yeowomen were not deterred and stormed back with a nine-run third inning to take a 9-6 lead. The tenacious Ladies’ offense answered with six in the home half of the third to regain the lead. Oberlin managed to strike back with a six-run inning of their own to bring the score to 15-12 in Oberlin’s favor.
As the weather conditions worsened in the fifth inning, the Ladies refused to be discouraged. Ogata completed the cycle, hitting a single, double, triple and her first collegiate home run, which also plated Sophie Silberman ’19. Later in the fifth, the Ladies retook the lead, this time for good, on a bases-clearing triple by Elizarraraz.
“I think there might have been nerves when some of us realized our first conference game was against [the person] who recruited us,” Whibley said. “At the end of the day we still came out on top, which is what’s most important.”
As has been the case in many games this season, strong performances by first-year players helped the team overcome obstacles.
“It felt awesome to hit for the cycle,” Ogata said.
Ogata’s performance earned her the NCAC player of the week honor on Monday. “I’m honored to be named player of the week as a freshman,” Ogata said. Over the course of the week she collected 11 hits, drove in 12 runs and reached 20 total bases.
The Ladies’ record improves to 13-8-1 and 2-0 in the conference. Kenyon’s doubleheader against Wittenberg University (17-4-1; NCAC 1-1), previously scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed to Wednesday, April 13.